Halushki – traditional Slovak pasta – have already been mentioned in a recipe for Strapatchki. A slightly different version of halushki was used to accompany rabbit thighs in this recipe. Halushki are sometimes used in soups instead of noodles, but the most important role of these small, gnocchi-like dumplings is for our national dish, where halushki are smothered in bryndza cheese.
Bryndza is another ingredient closely related to Slovakia. Some say it was brought to our lands from Romania, and indeed there is a similar word in Romanian, but it means cheese in general, while Slovak bryndza is a kind of sheep’s milk cheese made by a specific method.
It’s very difficult to get genuine bryndza cheese outside of Slovakia, so if you want to try the recipe below, you’ll have to find a soft cheese of similar consistency. It may not match bryndza in taste, but that’s what national specialities are about. To taste them, it’s best to come to the country of origin.
To make halushki, you’ll need a special tin plate with holes, or some skill and patience.
Halushki with Bryndza Cheese
- 4 large potatoes
- 300 – 400 g wheat flour (plain white to wholemeal 2:1)
- salt to taste
- 250 g bryndza cheese
- 100 ml milk
- 150 g smoked bacon, diced
- some oil
- Take the cheese out of the fridge and let it warm to room temperature. Peel and wash the potatoes. Grate them finely into a large bowl.
- Add the flour to make a loose dough. Potatoes vary in the liquid content, so the exact amount of the flour will depend on the variety you’re using. Your dough should look like this:
- Salt and lightly dust the potato dough to prevent it from browning. Cover the bowl with a dishcloth. Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Meanwhile, put the bryndza cheese in a small bowl and mash it with a fork. Pour in the milk and combine into a thin paste.
- When the water is boiling, adjust the heat to let it simmer. Place the holey tin plate over the pot and transfer half of the potato dough into it. Use a wooden spatula to pass the dough through the plate. As it falls into the boiling water, the dough forms little dumplings (halushki). Stir them well and let cook until they come up to the surface. Watch carefully as halushki tend to overflow.
- Take the cooked halushki out with a slotted spoon and transfer into a clean bowl. Cover to keep warm. Repeat step 4 with the other half of the potato dough.
- Put the bacon in a frying pan over a low heat. Let sweat until it starts letting out fat. Pour in some oil if needed, and turn up the heat. Fry the bacon until crisp and brown, stirring often, then put aside.
- Stir the bryndza cheese paste into the halushki. Pour the fried bacon with the dripping over the top. Serve hot with a mug of buttermilk.
If you don’t have a holey tin plate, but still want to try your hand at making halushki, see the photo guide here.